Zimbabwe: More Cholera Cases Spark State of Emergency in Zimbabwe’s Capital

Harare — A cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe prompted the government to declare a state of emergency in Harare, BBC reports.

With over 7,000 probable cases, the epidemic claimed the lives of hundreds of people thus far.

The International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) said health officials are finding it difficult to control the large number of hospital admissions. IFRC lists the shortage of medical personnel, to handle cases, and resources like access to clean water to stop the spread.

The outbreak sweeping across the city brought back memories of the epidemic in 2008. The government had then declared a “national emergency” and almost 4,000 people died. Neighbouring states – Malawi, South Africa, and Mozambique – also frequently experience cholera outbreaks. Authorities are pleading for help in stopping the spread and providing clean water as current relief efforts are insufficient.

The high-density suburb of Kuwadzana in Harare, authorities said, is the core of this epidemic, accounting for roughly half of the documented cases. It’s become more difficult to access clean water, or purification resources, residents said, increasing their chances of contracting cholera. Some bemoaned the decline of safe boreholes that provide water to about 38% of the population.

In response to criticism of Zimbabwe’s infrastructure, President Emmerson Mnangagwa pledged to drill additional boreholes in each of the 35,000 villages over the next 12 months. The current cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe is the biggest since 2008, when the government declared a “national emergency” due to an outbreak that claimed almost 4,000 lives nationwide. Other neighbouring southern African states, such as Malawi, South Africa, and Mozambique, also frequently experience cholera outbreaks.

Severe weather conditions, such as floods, cyclones, and droughts, also make it harder to access clean water, providing the perfect conditions for cholera to spread. Cholera cases were reported in 44 countries in 2022, up from 35 countries in 2021 (a 25% rise). 2023 sees this tendency continuing, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The climate crisis in Africa will continue having devastating consequences until action is taken to mitigate the loss of life and damage to infrastructure. It is also impacting areas such as health and is resulting in various outbreaks, including the spread of cholera.

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